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June 11, 2019

Scott Hook seeks interim top prosecutor appointment

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Republican nominee Scott C. Hook of Warrenton faces no opposition in the Nov. 5 election to fill the open Fauquier County commonwealth’s attorney position.
Clearly, I’m running to take over the commonwealth’s attorney position. I think it would be a great head start for me, if I’m the interim, to implement some of the ideas and potential changes that I’ve thought about.
— Scott C. Hook
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The Warrenton lawyer soon hopes to win appointment as interim Fauquier County commonwealth’s attorney.

Candidates for the temporary position as Fauquier’s chief prosecutor have until Monday, June 17, to apply to the 20th Judicial Circuit, whose four judges will make the call.

Republican nominee Scott C. Hook, 42, who faces no opposition for commonwealth’s attorney in the fall election, applied Monday for the interim appointment — one week before the deadline.

With six months remaining on his four-year term, Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher will resign June 30 to become a circuit court Judge. The Virginia General Assembly in January elected Mr. Fisher to an eight-year term on the bench. He will join the court July 1.

Mr. Fisher won his first four-year term as commonwealth’s attorney in 2011.

The 20th Judicial Circuit includes Fauquier, Loudoun and Rappahannock counties. Mr. Fisher will commute from his home near The Plains to Leesburg, where he will preside.

Under the circumstances, he believes his appointment as interim chief prosecutor makes sense, said Mr. Hook, a sole practitioner.

“Clearly, I’m running to take over the commonwealth’s attorney position,” the Warrenton resident said. “I think it would be a great head start for me, if I’m the interim, to implement some of the ideas and potential changes that I’ve thought about. So, if I’m elected, effective Jan. 1, there would be a smooth transition.”

The state code allows commonwealth’s attorneys to appoint their interim successors.

Based on his reading of state law, Mr. Fisher deemed Senior Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Charles K. “Chuck” Peters, who lives near Markham, qualified for the job.

The pertinent code section states that: “The highest ranking deputy officer, or in the case of the office of attorney for the Commonwealth, the highest ranking full-time assistant attorney for the Commonwealth, who is qualified to vote for and hold that office, shall be vested with the powers and shall perform all of the duties of the office.”

The interim commonwealth’s attorney also must live in Fauquier and “have been a resident” of Virginia “for one year next preceding his election and be qualified to vote for that office,” according to state law.

Mr. Peters on Feb. 5 announced he would seek the Republican nomination for commonwealth’s attorney. But 10 days later, he withdrew from the race, citing “personal reasons and my family priorities.”

In a June 6 notice seeking applications for the interim position, 20th Circuit Court Chief Judge Stephen E. Sincavage, who presides in Leesburg, referred to the pertinent state code to fill commonwealth’s attorney vacancies.

But, he added: “The statutory successor pursuant to that provision has declined to serve.”

Mr. Fisher and Mr. Peters failed to return phone messages seeking comment for this story.

Christie Adler, a program manager who works for Chief Judge Sincavage, declined Monday to say whether the court had received any applications for the interim prosecutor’s job.

The 20th Circuit’s four judges include Jeffery W. Parker, who sits in Fauquier and Rappahannock. Judge Parker will retire Nov. 1, after 18-1/2 years on the bench.

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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